The Actuaries Institute has launched its latest Public Policy Statement, titled Mastering Mathematics for Australia’s Future.
The Statement, developed by Martin Mulcare with a team of actuaries, outlines that Australian students’ aspirations and their awareness of the value of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills and the breadth of STEM careers is declining because they don’t understand how maths is relevant to everyday life.
The Statement provides public policy recommendations that will lead to more students studying maths, and at higher levels. It acknowledges education policy is complex but says Australia is falling behind on national and international learning benchmarks.
“Effective maths education is vital for young Australians to help them confidently apply maths to everyday tasks and to create high-level capabilities that support the growth of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) industries in Australia,” said Martin.
|Ahead of the Statement’s release, Martin spoke on the Actuaries Institute Podcast with Margarita Psaras, David Barnes (members of the Institute’s Revitalising School Maths Working Group) and Clare Hughes (Public Policy and Practice Excellence Advisor at the Institute) to discuss the key points in the statement.
The Statement outlines only 20.5% of Year 12 students currently choose to study intermediate maths and only 10.1% study maths at a higher level, rates that have declined from 23.3% and 11.6%, respectively, in 2008. Fewer girls (7%) than boys (12%) study higher level maths, and there are stark differences between maths and numeracy rates between city and regional kids.
The Statement says that every Australian school leaver should be able to demonstrate a minimum standard of numeracy and the education system should be accountable for delivering that outcome with a range of suitable courses.
Recommendations made in the Statement include:
- Compulsory mathematics or numeracy courses for all students to school completion.
- STEM industries to support the mathematics curriculum.
- Advanced training for mathematics educators.
- Appropriate mathematics prerequisites for STEM-based university degrees.
- University admissions to reward students undertaking higher-level mathematics.
- Promote greater female participation in higher mathematics.
Existing evidence-based research underpins the Statement. The authors are grateful for the insightful views of educators and stakeholders, including the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute and the Australian Council for Educational Research.
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